The Danforth Museum in Framingham, Mass., houses the Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller Special Collection. This collection, the only one in the country, spans seventy years of creative output from Fuller’s early works in Paris, to her role as a precursor to the Harlem Renaissance, to her late works celebrating members of the African-American intelligentsia. It offers not only a holistic and rich overview of her work and artistic process, but also a very intimate look at her life, family, and creative community.
“We are grateful for the support of the Henry Luce Foundation…for recognizing Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller’s significance as an artist, as well as the potential for her life and her work to inform our understanding of race, gender, and class in the early 20th century,” says Debra Petke, museum director. “The funds provided under this grant are essential to our efforts to inventory, photograph, and rehouse these objects. By improving both storage and our collections database, we will stabilize this one-of-a-kind collection, prepare it for our eventual move to the Jonathan Maynard Building, and begin to make it accessible for scholars.”
Seen on the way to the Gardner today. A pair of wrought iron wyverns about 3 feet high, flanking a doorway on Tetlow Street. Very Highclere Castle-ish.
I’m included in the New England Sculptors Association show at the historic Governor Langdon house in Portsmouth, NH. Here I am at my moldmaking demonstration last weekend, showing my two-part mold for the baby head series. The beautiful mansion and grounds host both indoor and outdoor work in bronze, wood, stone, and steel by over 20 area sculptors. On view through September 6.
I’ll be giving an ongiong demonstration of moldmaking and sculpture techniques at Portsmouth’s historic Governor John Langdon House from 2-4pm, in the studio. This complements the New England Sculptors Association summer show, on the grounds and inside the 18th-century mansion itself. A second half of this show is installed on the grounds of the Sarah Orne Jewett house, just across the river in Maine. Hope to see you!
Although I went to Smith and visit the campus often, I saw Ellen Driscoll‘s womens’ bathroom in the college art museum for this first time this weekend. Titled “Catching the Drift,” the installation’s walls are painted in a Delft palette of blue-and-white on glass tiles, accented by swirling blue designs in the toilets themselves. The installation is stunning and—just a bit intimidating to someone who needs a bathroom for its expected function. Some of the images on the walls are taken from objects in the museum’s collections, while others relate to water and its teeming life forms. In an age of drought and global warming, the message of human water use is clear.
Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (March 19, 1890 – 1960) was born in Rhode Island, to parents of mixed Native American and African American ancestry; her father was Narragansett.
In 1914, at the age of 24, Prophet enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. While at RISD she studied painting and drawing, especially portraiture. Prophet married Francis Ford, who had briefly attended Brown University, in 1915. They later divorced and had no children.
After graduating from RISD in 1918, Prophet tried to make a living as a portrait painter, but times were hard in Rhode Island at the end of World War I. To compound Prophet’s economic problems, there was racial segregation in relatively liberal Providence (which had integrated its public schools in the 1860s); theaters and restaurants had whites-only sections. Prophet is said to have told the poet Countee Cullen that she once had a sculpture accepted to a show in Providence on the condition she not attend the opening, so she withdrew the piece.
In 1922 Prophet moved to Paris, a haven for American artists and musicians of color. While there, she developed her signature style: a realistic portrait head carved in either wood or marble, often presented as emerging from the uncarved block. Prophet returned to the United States in 1932 and moved to Georgia, where she taught at Spellman College and Atlanta University. Returning North in 1945, Prophet found herself unable to make further headway in her career and was forced to take domestic work in order to make a living.
Pictured: Congolais, cherry, 1931, installed at the new Whitney Museum (courtesy Hyperallergic)
For more images of Prophet’s work: http://portraitsculptors.org/FeatureImg/Prophet/Feature_NancyProphet.html
I plan to see this life-size bronze Jumbo, recently unveiled at Tufts University. If you don’t know the story of the giant circus elephant who was stuffed and on display at Tufts, read on…
Photo and link courtesy WGBH news.
Katrín Sigurdardóttir‘s installation of very small houses at MIT’s List Gallery is a stunning doorway into the world of memory, and an individual’s perception of home. The houses are grouped into two series: Ellefu (“Eleven” in Icelandic) and Unbuilt Residences in Reykjavik 1925–1930. “Eleven” consist of eleven segments of the artist’s childhood home (one of which is shown at top). The models are reconstructed from basswood and plaster, and serve as physical souvenirs as well as signifiers of the particularities of lived experience filtered (faultily, or partially) by memory. Fault lines exist more noticeably in the second series (Unbuilt Residences). These architectural models have been burned, dropped, and otherwise damaged. Their cracks are, in some cases, visibly patched, while in others the shattered walls are left bare and gaping.
At the MIT List Visual Art Center until April 12.
Fifteen years ago, I completed this lifesize bronze child reading books for the Melrose (Mass.) Public Library. Since then, a friend in Melrose occasionally sends photos of the piece in curious situations. I couldn’t resist sharing this one. With about 100 inches of snow still mostly on the ground in the Boston area, kids visiting the library not only dug out the sculpture but put a hat and scarf on it. Nothing deters a dedicated reader!
Thanks to Kelly Paulson and family for keeping me up to date.
British ceramic sculptor Kerry Jameson gave a terrific artist talk at Concord’s Lacoste Gallery today. She explained how randomness–cracks in firing, glaze crawl, and other imperfections that drive potters crazy–has become an important feature of her studio process. Instead of rejecting pieces with firing imperfections, as ceramists are usually expected to do, Jameson dismembers pieces with a hammer and re-assembles them with a special mixture of kaolin and glue. She then uses acrylic paint, fabric, feathers, and found objects to cover the surface. Her pieces seem driven by intense internal narratives, appearing both pensive and peculiar. Most work combines animal heads and human forms; a few are wholly avian.
Jameson just completed a residency at Emmanuel College in Boston. The show at Lacoste is her first in the United States. It’s up until March 15th.
At top: Donkey, ceramic and mixed media